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Rodney Slatford was born in Cuffley, Hertfordshire. He abandoned his intention of becoming a farmer after attending National Youth Orchestra courses under Eugene Cruft, and went to study at the Royal College of Music in London. His hectic career began whilst still a student, playing principal bass first with the Midland (now English) Sinfonia, then the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and finally the English Chamber Orchestra, which post he shared with his former teacher until resigning in 1981 to devote more time to chamber music, teaching and writing.
Whilst with the ECO, Rodney Slatford appeared as soloist in a Henry Wood Promenade Concert. With the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields he made a solo record for EMI which included the Duetto by Rossini, one of nearly 100 works he has edited and published in his own Yorke Edition, a unique small company devoted entirely to double bass literature.
Chamber music has played an important part over the past thirty years. Rodney Slatford was a founder member of the Nash Ensemble, with whom he broadcast and toured regularly. Besides the Nash, there were frequent guest appearances with established string quartets such as the Amadeus. He retired from professional playing in 1994.
As a teacher, besides giving international master classes in places as far afield as Berlin and Cairo. Rodney Slatford was Professor at the Royal College of Music for ten years before leaving in 1984 to become Head of School of Strings at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
At the RNCM he founded the Junior Strings Project, a teacher-training scheme involving local children that has led to a recognised postgraduate teaching course at the College. He ran the Young Musician's Scheme for the Greater London Arts Association for two years, launched a major double bass competition and workshop in 1978 on the Isle of Man and has devoted much time to developing a teaching method whereby children can begin studying the bass from the age of six.
This initiative was the subject of his Gulbenkian Report The Bottom Line, The Yorke Trust, a charity set up under his guidance, was responsible for a gathering of 200 bassists in Manchester and is currently organising teacher-training courses and demonstrations throughout the world.
As a writer, Rodney Slatford has contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and many periodicals. Articles about the double bass have appeared in numerous journals over the years. He is also in demand as an adjudicator and has been a member of the jury of several international competitions overseas, besides chairing the European String Teachers Association`s committee that reported on music competitions.
Until January 1997 he was Chairman of the British Branch of ESTA and also Chairman of the Governors of the Royal Society of Musicians. He was a member of the Music Advisory Committee of the British Council for some years. In 1998 he was invited to become a Vice President of the Dalcroze Society.
When not involved in musical activities, Rodney Slatford is a passionate gardener; his London home has appeared on BBC TV`s Gardeners’ World and features in several books. He has a house in Norfolk where he has also founded a small arts centre as part of the Yorke Trust's activities. Walking the dogs on an incomparable stretch of coast provides ideal relaxation.